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National Recreation Trails history

A new start for the NRT Program

National Recreation Trails are a category identified in the National Trails System Act. How can we use this designation as a means of promoting trails nationally?

During 1999-2000 a variety of trail groups and agencies worked with the National Park Service to redesign and revitalize the National Recreation Trails (NRT) Program. American Trails is serving as the lead nonprofit partner on this project and is particularly involved in efforts to publicize the program and provide easily accessible information about the designated trails.

The National Recreation Trails Program supports designated NRTs with a new benefits package. Its goal is to promote the use and care of existing trails and stimulate the development of new trails to create a national network of trails and realize the vision of Trails for All Americans.

Unveiling of the new NRT program began with National Trails Day 2000. In September, at the National Trails Symposium in Redding, California, an NRT workshop, titled "Back in the Saddle Again," provided more information on:

The deadline for the first round of nominations was scheduled for November, 2000.

Benefits of NRT Designation

  • National Recreation Trails benefit from the prestige and increased visibility of being a part of the National Trail System.
  • Trail managers receive a letter and certificate of designation, entitling them to use the NRT logoto mark their trails.
  • New designations are announced annually by either the Secretary of Interior or the USDA Regional Forester as part of the nationwide celebration of National Trails Day.

Other benefits include:

  • Access to technical assistance and funding opportunities from National Park Service programs and the other NRT Program partners
  • An NRT newsletter with program updates, newsworthy activities, technical information, trends and innovative solutions to trail issues from around the country
  • Networking and training opportunities
  • Assistance with recognition and special events highlighting the trail.
  • Publicity for National Recreation Trails

Once designated, all NRTs are included on the NRT on line database. American Trails and the National Park Service are finalizing an agreement to add NRT program information to the American Trails website, as well as to include all designated trails on a searchable online database.

More resources:


photo of trail work


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